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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

Democracy and traditional leadership in rural areas explored
2017-09-22

Description: Democracy Tags: Democracy, customary law, human rights, research, constitution 

Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza, recipient of the NRF Hamilton
Naki Award
Photo: Supplied


The Free State Centre for Human Rights held a presentation by Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza on 7 September 2017 at the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on the topic of democracy and traditional leadership in rural areas. Prof Ntsebeza is the holder of the AC Jordan Chair in African Studies at the University of Cape Town and the holder of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chair in Land Reform and Democracy in South Africa. 

Conflict between democracy and traditional rule
The topic of democracy and traditional leadership in the rural areas is an example of the tension between democracy and customary law governing the appointment of traditional leaders (headmen) that is currently at play in many parts of the country. Prof Ntsebeza made reference to a court case in the Eastern Cape, where a community successfully challenged the appointment of a headman by the royal family of the area. The contention was whether royal families could appoint headmen in rural communities or if those communities ought to democratically elect their own leaders. He argued that in this specific case, the democratic imperatives of the Constitution did not conflict with customary law because of the particular communal practice of electing leaders. 

The Constitution and customary law

The Constitution of South Africa recognises customary law provisions which are not in conflict with its fundamental values. Difficult legitimacy problems may arise where customary practices are different from those governing this particular case. Ultimately the Constitutional Court would be called upon to resolve inherent tensions and develop customary law in line with the direction foreseen in the Constitution.

Student engagement as a vehicle for change
The event was attended by UFS staff and fourth-year LLB students in the Faculty of Law, and was funded by the Free State Centre for Human Rights at UFS. The programme is one of several that the centre seeks to utilise in engaging students with researchers and scholars in the field of law and human rights. Prof Ntsebeza has given academic presentations on various related and trending topics in the current academic climate, such as decolonising the curriculum, Cecil John Rhodes and others. He was recently awarded the Hamilton Naki Award at the 2017 National Research Foundation Awards.

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